A Finnish composer born in 1952 in Finland.
Kaija Saariaho studied composition with Paavo Heininen, Klaus Huber and Brian Ferneyhough, then computer music at Ircam in 1982. She has lived since then in Paris, though teaching at successively San Diego and Helsinki. Situated within the spectral æsthetic, her work involves the use of computers. She has a highly individual style with, notably, original research into what the composer calls “the timbral axis”(1) which has led her to distinguish ethereal sounds and noised sounds, in textures that are either electronic or acoustic or a combination of both, as well as the progressive transformation of sound masses. Among her main works are Laconisme de l'aile (1982), Nymphea (1987, premiered by the Kronos Quartet), Du cristal (1990), Près (1992), NoaNoa (1992), Graal Théâtre (1994), Oltra Mar (1999, commissioned by the New York Philharmonic Orchestra), La passion de Simone (2005), Notes on light (2006), the operas L'amour de loin (2000) and Adriana mater (2005, first staged at the Bastille Opera, Paris) to librettos by Amin Maalouf, and the installation Nox Borealis (2008).
(1) Kaija Saariaho. “Timbre et harmonie”, in Jean-Baptiste Barrière (dir.). Le timbre: métaphore pour la composition. Paris: Ircam; Paris: C. Bourgois, 1991, p. 412-453.